Verbal descriptions of actions activate compatible motor responses [Glenberg, A. M., & Kaschak, M. P. (2002). Grounding language in action. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 558-565]. Previous studies have found that the motor processes for manual rotation are engaged in a direction-specific manner when a verb disambiguates the direction of rotation [e.g. "unscrewed;" Zwaan, R. A., & Taylor, L. (2006). Seeing, acting, understanding: Motor resonance in language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 1-11]. The present experiment contributes to this body of work by showing that verbs that leave direction ambiguous (e.g. "turned") do not necessarily yield such effects. Rather, motor resonance is associated with a word that disambiguates some element of an action, as meaning is being integrated across sentences. The findings are discussed within the context of discourse processes, inference generation, motor activation, and mental simulation.

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Brain and Language
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Taylor, L., Lev-Ari, S., & Zwaan, R. (2008). Inferences about action engage action systems. Brain and Language, 107(1), 62–67. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2007.08.004